There is a lot more to a full course of treatment with braces than just brackets and wire. Your orthodontist will use a variety of instruments to adjust the teeth to be straightened and to ensure the hardware does its job fully and effectively. One of the most important of these is braces separators. These simple tools maintain a space between two teeth and come in three main types; rubber separators, metal separators and orthodontic bands.
Rubber braces separators are the most common type used. Your orthodontist will place the rubber separator between two teeth using a length of floss and by applying some pressure. Then the separator will be adjusted in order to apply even pressure throughout the broadest possible region between the two teeth to ensure equilateral force is applied. The expansion of the rubber insert will push teeth apart slightly over time.
Metal braces separators are used in cases where rubber separators cannot be inserted. It could be that the teeth which need to be separated are too close together for a rubber separator to be used. In instances such as these, it is usually the case that the space your dentist wants to create has to be made. A metal separator can be forced between the teeth to create the space.
Metal Vs Rubber Separators
Your dentist will usually prefer to use rubber over metal braces separators because rubber is gentler on the enamel of the teeth. Rubber separators are more versatile and also generate a small degree of pressure which facilitates the movement of teeth in the desired direction. Metal separators only separate the teeth during insertion, which can be a more uncomfortable experience than having rubber separators installed. The most important distinction between the two is that one creates a space, while the other expands an existing space.
Another older type of braces separators is the orthodontic band. This device is either bracketed or unbracketed and is most often used on the molars in the rear areas of the mouth. Held in place using a special dental cement, an orthodontic band is used to attach an archwire to a patient’s molars. They are made from stainless steel, come in a range of sizes and can be custom fit in order to grip the tooth firmly and securely without interfering with the movement of the tongue or eating. The archwire is slid into a groove on the side of the band allowing for the movement or stabilization of the molars.